Oh how I wish that I could have participated in one of The Women’s Marches yesterday, Saturday, January 21, 2017. I know several ladies from our community who went to the DC Women’s March. I can’t wait to hear their stories after they return home.
And I love reading all about The Women’s March and seeing the images. The New York Times has a particularly great image heavy online article at the link below (and thanks to KatieC for pointing me to that link!):
The Women’s March on Washington (and elsewhere) event made me think back to my hearing Helen Reddy perform her cowritten song “I am Woman”, rerecorded in 1972 and it became a #1 hit!
“Helen Reddy – I Am Woman (with lyrics)” in a video by Jack Lim
In 1972, I would have been about 13 years old. And this song helped to initiate my nascent exploration of feminism—that didn’t flower into fruition until decades later during my undergraduate and graduate school years. I was too young then as a 13 year old to seek out the news and opinions about Second Wave Feminism and Feminists like Gloria Steinem (and right in 1972)—or even to know that they existed.
So other media influences in my early years–that celebrated strong women and the strength of women facing incredible odds–included several tv shows and films as noted below (in first broadcast year order):
“That Girl” (tv, 1966 to 1971, and right)—Marlo Thomas portrayed a single career gal Ann Marie who was a sometime working actress, railing against her father’s over protection of her since she moved into her own apartment–and Ann Marie gave her boyfriend Donald (played by Ted Bessell who later went on to direct a lot of television in later years) lessons in how to be a better man and a better life partner. So not only did the show inform men that women want respect and equal treatment, but it showed women a way to seek that respect and equal treatment with grit and determination—all the while being a spunky and an adorable Miss.
“Star Trek” (tv, 1966-1969, and right)— with its equality driven characters focus, featuring Nichelle Nichols as one of the leads, Lt. Uhura (right), Star Trek helped us view a better future. As quoted from the wiki link, “Issues depicted in the various series include war and peace, the value of personal loyalty, authoritarianism, imperialism, class warfare, economics, racism, religion, human rights, sexism, feminism, and the role of technology. Roddenberry stated: “[By creating] a new world with new rules, I could make statements about sex, religion, Vietnam, politics, and intercontinental missiles.”
“Julia” (tv, 1968 to 1971, and right)— starring Diahann Carrol as a Viet Nam war widow nurse raising her son by herself. And she was the first non-science fiction African-American character I remember seeing on tv in a professional career as a nurse—ground breaking. And the show directly addressed Civil Rights and discrimination. At the time, as a child, I watched the show because I liked family shows and shows with strong women. And I had an African American school friend—she is my earliest memory of having a friend, as kindergartners–whose Mom was a nurse, who was also widowed. So the parallels were striking.
“The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (tv, 1970 to 1977, and below)—Mary Tyler Moore played a career woman tv news Producer in Minnesota who had to constantly prove herself in the broadcast world and to her new boss Lou Grant portrayed by Edward Asner. That Mary won Lou over and became his respected colleague helped me visualize a potential future as a woman with a career. I even now realize that the continuing “gag” of the bumbling newsman Ted—unqualified and frequently goofy, but Ted was a ratings winner so popularity beat competence—subtly pointed a finger and some men getting jobs they were less qualified for, just because they were men and charmed people . Wow! The potential parallel here with current events, just hit me.
“Maude” (tv, 1972 to 1978, and right)—Maude Findlay, portrayed by Bea Arthur, was a divorced woman living with her 4th husband Walter (played by Bill Macy) and a grown daughter (played by Adrienne Barbeau); both women sought to find their way as women in a society going through change. And the sometimes hapless Walter was along for the ride—with Maude as an often confident, yet sometimes insecure, woman. I remember that my Dad really didn’t want my Mom and I to watch the show. I suppose that he thought it subversive. Ha! Yet, my Mom—bless her!—stood her ground and she and I did watch that show. Considering that my Mom had years earlier suggested that we didn’t need the ERA when we passed by their table at the State Fair and I asked her what it was about, Mom’s position about the tv show “Maude” was remarkable. So by the time “Maude” came around, Mom’s views were changing, too.
“Good Times” (tv, 1974 to 1979, and right)–with Esther Rolle reprising her character Florida Evans from “Maude”, but reframing her as a family matriarch—with a present husband named James portrayed by John Amos. The show shared a non-affluent family’s ups and downs and living in Chicago’s Cabrini Green apartment complex with grace, humor, and heart. Florida was the bedrock and heart of the show. Whatever farce or emotional upheaval was playing out in her family—especially with teen son JJ played by Jimmy Walker—Florida with James by her side, usually brought calm to whatever storms or difficulties were brewing.
“Roots” (tv miniseries, 1977, and right)–It was only in later growing up years while my watching roots, that I connected the dots about race in the U.S. It was a watershed moment for me and for many. Our school history lessons had been woefully lacking about the discrimination, slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement, etc. But with “Roots”, we could no longer deny a lack of knowledge about the U.S.’s shameful past—and how that begat our fellow citizens’ current miseries. Then long after my first graduate degree, I signed up for another special graduate program in Women’s Studies–and my understanding exploded with regard to race, class, gender, etc. The ironically named 1790’s Naturalization Act being another of those awful moments in U.S. history, etc.
Any film with Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn (below left and right, respectively). For me, these two women embodied strength, self determinism, and self respect. Atta girls! And they were doing so decades before I was born!
So being gutsy and brave and standing up for oneself as a woman and pushing societal barriers is not new—as the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention ladies would tell their 21st century women counterparts. But every now and then over the years, something happens, and it reminds us not to be complacent about the societal gains women have made. And with hundreds of thousands of women marching in cities across the U.S. and around the globe—totaling to over a million women at the very least—women are a force to be reckoned with when we act together for the common good of all of us.
Wishing you a wonderful and fulfilling weekend! Cheers! Grati ;->